Storm snarls holiday getaway traffic
A pre-Thanksgiving coastal storm packing strong wind gusts, scattered rain and low clouds socked it to travelers Wednesday -- on what is among the busiest travel days of the year.
But as the night wore on, only one major metro-area airport had delays due to wind gusts and low clouds, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Around 10:30 p.m., LaGuardia Airport was still reporting average delays on arriving flights of about 51 minutes due to wind. But John F. Kennedy International, Newark-Liberty and Long Island MacArthur were each experiencing delays of less than 15 minutes, according to the FAA's website.
The strong winds also caused headaches for motorists trying to get a jump on holiday travel, with drivers forced to fight the wheel at times just to stay in their travel lanes.
Earlier Wednesday, police in both counties said they had gotten calls about downed trees and utility poles, road flooding -- and even a sinkhole in East Northport.
Authorities were monitoring roads for flood and wind problems, including any signs of erosion on Ocean Parkway in the Gilgo Beach area.
The roadway and sand dunes there were recently restored in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, and state transportation officials said a portable electronic sign there will warn motorists of any road deterioration and flooding.
By late evening Wednesday, road flooding had subsided in areas where it had been problematic earlier in the day, Nassau police said.
The Long Island Rail Road had extra eastbound trains running due to the high volume of people getting an early start on Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. On and off through the day and night, some trains were running as often as every 12 minutes as people packed Penn Station, and the rail road was not experiencing delays as of late evening.
On top of weather-related road problems, police across the Island mounted increased DWI patrols Wednesday night.
The Suffolk County Sheriff's office will station its massive BAT mobile, which stands for breath alcohol testing, near Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 4 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, considered the biggest party period of the holiday because people don't have to go to work on Thursday.
The bus has a jail cell, equipment to analyze drivers' breath for alcohol and cameras to record field sobriety tests.
"It's basically a large billboard for don't drink and drive," said Michael Sharkey, chief of staff for Sheriff Vincent DeMarco.